WORLD CUP OF SOFTBALL BROADCAST INTO MORE THAN 140 COUNTRIES, SHOWCASING BID FOR OLYMPIC 2020 GAMES INCLUSION
Softball Cup highlights growing globalisation and importance of Softball to women's sport and appeal to sponsors and spectators
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (USA) - The World Cup of Softball has scored a home run here for the campaign to get softball and baseball in the 2020 Olympic Games.
The tournament, featuring the world's leading national women's softball teams, has demonstrated the popularity of the sport amongst women of all ages, and the capacity of softball to generate big crowds, strong commercial and sponsor interest and involvement and the support of the sport's leading athletes, teams and supporters for the Olympic Games.
"...we've all dreamed about being in the Olympics. That was one of our goals when we were little. We're just going to work hard and have fun and hopefully showcase softball so that people will want to put it back into the Olympics. That's what we're trying to do," US infielder Lauren Gibson, who's starting her third year on the U.S. squad, said in a recent media report.
The World Cup of Softball, with close scores and upsets, has also attracted strong interest amongst audiences and spectators world wide, with ESPN broadcasting the tournament across its family of networks for coverage in more than 140 countries. Two-time Olympic Gold medallist, Michele Smith, provided the color commentary for the tournament.
Games which were not shown live on ESPN were available through web streaming. High school broadcast students were given the opportunity to run the production and work behind the scenes with ESPN allowing for youth to be gain value experience and exposure in international web and television coverage.
The tournament has also demonstrated the capacity of softball, like baseball, to create an electrifying atmosphere in the tournament venue, the Hall of Fame Stadium, while also generating strong interest in the sport across Oklahoma City, the host city, the state and in softball communities across America and around the world.
The weekend finals featuring the best national teams in the world, including Puerto Rico, Japan, Canada, Australia and Canada, highlighted strong support amongst athletes and fans for the World Baseball Softball Confederation campaign for softball and baseball to be included at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Players, fans and supporters highlighted their passion for the Olympic Games by wearing special WBSC Olympic Playball2020 campaign tattoos, and displayed banners and brochures calling for softball and baseball to be included at the Games, while signage, screens other demonstrations of Olympic support were on display in the main competition venue and the other surrounding venues.
The tournament also includes a Pink Game between US and Puerto Rico with athletes wearing pink coloured uniforms to raise money and awareness for cancer in women.
The WBSC Olympic 2020 bid brings the full power of gender equality to the Olympic programme, with Softball offering the Olympic Movement a new opportunity for more women to participate at the Olympic Games. Softball provides new pathways into sport for women from all cultures and religions, and is popular among Muslim girls because it is a non-contact team sport that can be adapted to local culture and conditions.
WBSC co-president Don Porter said: "Sport is good for women, and softball at the Olympic Games would inspire more young girls into sport. That's what we're fighting for - for young women and girls to have the opportunity to realise their dreams and to go to the Olympic Games."
At the professional level, baseball and softball are a $20 billion business worldwide, and are among the leading professional sports. Baseball is broadcast into 200 countries and the sport and its audiences are continuing to globalise and grow in key regions of the world including India, Africa, Middle East, Europe, Caribbean, South America and China, and the sport now boasts 250 million fans worldwide.
If included, softball and baseball would be unlike any other sport at the 2020 Olympic Games, bringing new and unique sporting skills and qualities to Olympic fans and viewers as the only bat and ball sport at the Games, helping to balance and diversify the Olympic programme and Olympic Games experience.
With 65 million active players around the world at various levels, baseball and softball currently rank as the largest sport not on the Olympic programme, and with the full support and resources of the sports' professional partners, the potential for baseball and softball to become the next great global game is very real.
"The World Baseball Softball Confederation regards the Olympic Games as the highest honour and goal for every athlete and sport, and we will place our full global resources and passion for the Games at the disposal of the Olympic Movement," co-president Fraccari said.
About the World Baseball Softball Confederation:
Formed under the authority and merger of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF), the World Baseball Softball Confederation has been established to provide a unified voice and governance for all disciplines of Baseball and Softball. The WBSC has 133 National Federations.
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